On June 2, the family and friends of Michael Fisher, a Dennis Township teen who died suddenly of a heart-related incident while playing hockey in 2010, gathered at the Dennis Township Recreation Park's hockey rink, where he died, for the rink's renaming ceremony in his honor.

The township hockey rink at Dennis Township Recreation Park is now named the Michael Fisher Memorial Hockey Rink, made known by the installation of a blue and white dedication plaque - the township's team colors - that bears its new name.

"It means a lot," said Justina Nees, Michael Fisher's mother, who spoke on behalf of herself and her husband, Daniel. "We'd rather have him here, but since we can't have that, this is our way to keep him with us and with the community."

Nees said she hopes renaming the hockey rink will help increase exposure for the Michael Fisher Memorial Fund, which was created after Michael's death to honor his memory and to raise money for health-related medical research through the Deborah Heart and Lung Center.

"My hope is to save another family from losing their child and going through what we did," she said.

Michael Fisher was born with an enlarged membrane in the subaortic region of his heart. The defect was diagnosed when he was 4, but his condition was seemingly under control, and his death was a shock to his family and friends.

Anthony Esposito, 18, a Dennis Township resident and 2013 Cape May County Technical High School graduate who was close friends with Fisher, said it took a long time to accept the loss of his friend.

"We had grown up together since we were toddlers, we were close," Esposito said. "It just took so long to realize that he was really gone. I still can't fully accept it. He's supposed to be graduating with me in a few weeks."

Esposito said he was happy to see the township honor his friend's memory by renaming the hockey rink, and he believes it was his generation - Michael Fisher's friends - who helped make it happen.

"I think the support of the younger generation helped persuade the township to do this, to do something that's right," he said.

Contact Elisa Lala:

609-463-6713